Induction Year: 1988
In 1968, Louisiana Tech basketball coach Scotty Robertson went to a high school tournament in Shreveport to check out Ralph Sepulvado, an All-State guard at Class C Ebarb High.
Robertson liked what he saw in Sepulvado, but he was even more impressed with Ebarb’s other guard.
“His name is Greg Procell,” a bystander informed him, “and he’s a sophomore.”
After the game, Robertson congratulated young Procell on his performance.
By the time he reached that goal two years later, Procell was the leading all-time scorer in high school basketball in the United States.
It wasn’t even close.
Records are made to be broken, but nobody is likely to challenge Procell’s record of 6,702.
The National High School Sports Record Book lists two other North Louisiana players, Bruce Williams of Florien and Jackie Moreland of Minden, as the only other players who scored more than 5,000 points. Williams had 5,367 points in a career ending in 1980, and Moreland had 5,030 when he completed his high school career in 1956.
Another Louisiana sharpshooter, David Cambre of French Settlement, was the first player to score 5,000 points. He had 5,814 in a prep career ending in 1955, but that includes 753 points as an eighth grader. The National Federation doesn’t recognize performances before the ninth, and the other three did their scoring in four-year careers.
Whether he leads the runner-up by 888 points or 1,335, Procell is in a class all by himself. That is why he was the first person inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame primarily because of his high school accomplishments.
He got his 100-point game in the Ebarb tournament, breaking the state record of 82 points by Truitt Weldon of Mount Carmel in a 1958 game with Plainview of Sabine.
Recalling the 1968 Fair Park tournament, when he first saw Procell, Robertson said he was impressed with his eating habits as well as his basketball talent.
“He only had an hour or so between his semifinal game and the consolation game,” said Robertson, who later coached in the National Basketball Association. “Before the last game, he was sitting in the bleachers munching on a jumbo candy bar and sipping a cold drink. Then he went out and threw in a bundle.”
In his senior season, Procell set a national record of 3,173 points – breaking the previous record by Harold Ray Strother of Plainview (Glenmora), La., High by nearly 500 points. Nobody else has ever come within 1,000 points of Procell’s single season mark.
Procell grew up shooting empty beer cans into foot tubs. He overcame a bout with polio to enter school at the tiny Ebarb community when he was five years old. When he was in the sixth grade, he got a rubber basketball for his birthday -- and quickly wore it out. Then the high school coach allowed him to come into the gym to watch the “big team” practice and shoot at the basket afterwards.
Three years later, Procell scored 51 points in one game as a freshman starter.
Ebarb High had an enrollment of 39 boys when Procell and “Tootsie Roll” Meshell led the Rebels to the Class C state finals two years in a row. But the Ebarb basketball team paid no attention to the size of its opponents. In Procell’s senior season, Ebarb was 5-5 against teams in the top two classifications with enrollments ranging from 1,100 to 2,400, and Procell averaged 47.6 points per game against the big schools. He had 57 in a 104-91 victory over defending Class AAA state champion Woodlawn (Shreveport) as the Rebels defeated defending state champs in three of the four higher classes – Woodlawn, Haughton in Class A and Florien in Class B. When they played in Shreveport-Bossier City, the colorful Rebels attracted overflow crowds.
Procell scored 20 or more points in 138 consecutive games, a streak that was finally broken when he was ejected in the first half for throwing a punch at a Converse player.
That hurt his average of 46.7 points per game, but it didn’t take Procell long to make up for it. The next game was his 100-point performance, with Ebarb coach Ken Hebert turning him loose (Procell fouled out with 30 seconds to play).
Despite his mind-boggling numbers, the most impressive thing about Procell’s high school career was the finish.
Playing before a Top Twenty state tournament crowd of 11,554 spectators, Ebarb was matched against Sabine Parish rival Pleasant Hill for the 11th time in a 68-game season. The series was all even at 5-5 going into the Class C finals, and Pleasant Hill had a one-point lead and the basketball in the final seconds of play. But a turnover at midcourt gave Ebarb the ball with four seconds remaining.
Meshell took a pass at the top of the free throw circle, fumbled the ball momentarily and then got off a 20-foot jumpshot that barely beat the buzzer. It made string music, giving the Rebels an 89-88 victory.
Meshell also is listed in the National Sports Record Book with a career total of 3,023 points.
Procell, now an assistant principal at Shreveport’s Huntington High and a professional fishing guide, has only one regret about his high school career.
“I was born too soon,” he said. “If we’d had that three-point line when I was playing, I might have scored 150 points one night.”
He originally signed a letter of intent with Southwestern Louisiana, but switched to Panola Junior College and led the Ponies in scoring. He was a reserve for most of his last two seasons at Northwestern State, a bit too slow for the college game.
In high school basketball, however, nobody ever did it better – and with tighter restrictions on the length of high school seasons, it isn’t likely that anybody ever will.
Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame | 500 Front Street | Natchitoches, LA 71497